A composite material (also called a composition material or shortened to composite) is a material made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties that, when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components. The individual components remain separate and distinct within the finished structure. The new material may be preferred for many reasons: common examples include materials which are stronger, lighter, or less expensive when compared to traditional materials. More recently, researchers have also begun to actively include sensing, actuation, computation and communication into composites, which are known as Robotic Materials.
Typical engineered composite materials include:
- mortars, concrete
- Reinforced plastics, such as fiber-reinforced polymer
- Metal composites
- Ceramic composites (composite ceramic and metal matrices)
Composite materials are generally used for buildings, bridges, and structures such as boat hulls, swimming pool panels, race car bodies, shower stalls, bathtubs, storage tanks, imitation granite and cultured marble sinks and countertops. The most advanced examples perform routinely on spacecraft and aircraft in demanding environments.